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7 reviews in total 
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Deserves a wider viewership, 11 July 2014

An appealing rookie effort by James Bridges that has its moments. Yes, the quality is uneven but its melancholy, nostalgic undercurrent echoes Dean's effect on the disaffected youth of the "innocent" Fifties, the first generation to register his impact. Offbeat, quirky and, yes, melodramatic, "September 30, 1955" captures adolescent confusion, longing and the death of innocence, paralleling Dean's own untimely death. The day-for-night closing fade-out and elegiac music foreshadow a sleepy generation soon to lose its Saturday-night youth to rapid, startling change. Throughout, Dean's presence is often eerily palpable in an admittedly lesser effort that deserves a greater following.

Public Sex (2009)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Naughty Little Gem, 14 April 2012

I'd never heard of "dogging" before catching "Public Sex" on Sundance. Even British reviews of this UK flick took inexplicable pleasure in belittling it. At a minimum, it deserves a cult following, much like its subject. Subtitled "A Love Story," this overlooked, naughty-but-nice gem uses occasional pseudo-documentary touches. Its main character, a young, unemployed, "investigative" journalist, shines a light, if you will, on the British phenom of dogging, couples shagging inside cars, at night, in public areas frequented for just that purpose. And dogging devotees aren't particularly shy about onlookers. Asked "How did you get into it?," one dogger responds, "How can you not get into it?" This proves true as the characters in "Public Sex" use dogging to find what they're really looking for and discover that, as one car door closes, another opens. Dogging, anyone?

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Flawed but essential, 7 June 2008

This documentary is essential for any fan of James Dean. I agree that the quality is low budget and it would have been nice to have had some interviews with people who knew him in Fairmount. However, at least one other documentary (and some of the books written about Dean) has interviewed those who knew him growing up and they really don't have a heckuva lot to contribute (at least as far as they're willing to reveal).

What is essential about The First American Teenager is that it's the only documentary that interviews Sal Mineo (who is sipping a can of beer), Natalie Wood, and Nicholas Ray (director of Rebel Without a Cause). As such, this documentary has unique footage. Some of these same interviews have been excerpted in later Dean documentaries.

I have to disagree that using '70s rock music is a nice touch, and I say this as someone who happens to enjoy the music in question. My gripe is that this is the only Dean documentary that I'm aware of that so obviously tried to generate audience interest in Dean by pandering to contemporary tastes. This goes against the grain of what has kept Dean relevant to every generation since his death: the timelessness of his impact, various personas, and universal message (he remains as great an icon in Japan, for instance, as anywhere else).

Watching this documentary today is to realize how badly this music dates it. Playing Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" is fair enough but the use of Bowie's "Rebel, Rebel" and Bad Company's "Movin' On" are anachronistic distractions that appear to have done nothing to popularize this rather obscure documentary. It's not even available on DVD, as contrasted with the numerous other Dean documentaries that are, including the one by PBS' American Masters series, none of which felt compelled to apologize for the fact that Dean lived and died during the Fifties which, by the way, is when rock 'n' roll came of age.

Le Mans (1971)
7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Overrated, star-indulgent vehicle, 21 September 2007

This movie would have destroyed the career of a lesser star.

While the above critic condemns the story of Grand Prix as "soap opera drivel," at least it isn't pretentious, unintelligible garbage.

Watching this movie is about as much fun as watching toy cars speed around a race track. The first 37 minutes with NO dialogue? Long stares between McQueen and others, shot "European fashinon," that are supposed to be filled with meaning but that are actually bewilderingly boring.

It's not shown on TV for a reason. Other than the auto-race nuts checking in here, there is not, never has been, and never will be a significant audience for a movie that McQueen made when he was well into cocaine.

See "Grand Prix" if you want to see true, documentary-style racing. The scenes are superlative, dramatic, and are not just random scenes of cars racing, and racing, and racing.

If they wanted "Le Mans" to be a documentary, they should have made it as such instead of pretending to be a movie. Anyone who thinks this movie is anywhere near-great has fumes on the brain.

Mrs. Harris (2005) (TV)
10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
That's why it received a slew of Emmy nominations, right?, 17 February 2007

This is a case of someone speaking as though they saw an entirely different movie. And, I guess, the individual above did.

"Mrs. Harris" is another solid effort in a long line of memorable HBO movies. But, please, don't take my word for it. Click on the link in the upper left margin of this page, where is says "Awards & Nominations." Is there an Emmy Award that this movie was NOT nominated for? Along with two SAG nominations and a slew of other nominations. I rest my case on that. (No, I don't think it was favoritism.) Two very solid performances by Annette Benning & Sir Ben Kingsley, a strong supporting cast, and a very good script. (Nice soundtrack, too.) Ignore Beavis's drivel and give this one a look.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
This film is better than most of today's box office hits., 7 September 2006

"Evel Knievel" doesn't pretend to be anything more than lightweight, escapist entertainment. If it takes liberties with Knievel's life, guess what--it's by no means the only such movie that's done so. Virtually every movie that's been made about an actual person(s) or historical event has taken liberties.

Most of the reviewers here seem to have taken a perverse satisfaction in beating up on a movie that Variety complimented for its "sheer comic relief." In fact, some of the reviews are so similar, it's difficult to believe that their authors have not taken "inspiration" from their predecessors, especially the first review, which offset every negative criticism with a positive one and made the word "mishmash" a must-use adjective for his successors.

This film is not a mishmash--it's a disappointment. Anyone who can't follow its storyline must still be reading the funny pages. The main problem is that half of this movie is good and the other half isn't. The good half is the flashbacks that deal with Knievel before he became the legend that he was when this film was released.

The film has its comedic moments, portraying Knievel as a man fearful of being hurt (he's afraid of needles, for instance) except when he's on a motorcycle. The filmmakers want us to like Knievel and realize that, in many ways, he's just like us. So, we end up with a semi-caricature, an ersatz imitation. But, this is most evident in the "present" time scenes, which are largely disposable, and serve no better purpose than filling gaps between flashbacks.

This was a low budget film, a quickie vehicle to make a quick buck, that has a movie-of-the-week quality at times. During the climactic jump, actual footage of the real Knievel is spliced with close-ups of extras turning their heads to watch the bike's trajectory, along with close-ups of what is supposed to be Knievel's bike suspended in air, are amateurishly staged. One particular highlight is a montage of Knievel stunt footage and, of course, the infamous Caesar's Palace jump.

Hamilton's performance is surprisingly good. In that sense, he is miscast but has a winning persona. The flashbacks are really not confusing. In fact, with few exceptions, they're the best parts of the movie. Perhaps it would have been better if the story had been told in a linear fashion. The biggest problem is when the flashbacks end and the movie returns to the present, where Knievel and his wife, Sue Lyons (who is basically window dressing and shares zero chemistry with Hamilton; and although the supporting cast contains a couple of familiar faces, they are lackluster) are spending the day behind-the-scenes at the Ontario Motor Speedway, where Knievel make a jump that evening.

Little of this material is good and is contrasts badly with the flashbacks. Hamilton's performance even suffers in the present-time scenes. He comes across as a stiff, pompous, bellyacher. Part of this is due to Knievel the iconic hero being portrayed as a high-maintenance griper, without the winning "bad boy" qualities Hamilton plays so well in the flashbacks, when he's a likable, non-dangerous hood.

His real private life became all-too-public and ugly at the height of his fame. A number of documentaries (with which Knievel cooperated) have shown about what the daredevil's private life was REALLY like, this is understandable (think of a boozing, out-of-control, sex-addicted rock star, besieged by groupies, enjoying a different woman every day and often more than one—his personal record for a single day was something like seven women). Unfortunately, the films suffers badly as a result.

This was another piece of merchandise cranked out when Knievel was a household name and an incredibly popular hero whose image was on posters, lunch boxes, his own cartoon series,and even an Evel Knievel, motorcycle-riding doll by Mattel. So we get a sanitized version of Knievel's life in keeping with the squeaky-clean public persona that never was. That's one reason why the flashbacks are probably more entertaining—they're closer to the truth.

Even so, Knievel is good, clean fun and I've always liked its theme song, although I don't know who sang it and it never charted.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
"Classic" is in the eye of the beholder, 7 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although I don't consider The Stork Club a classic, it's the kind of escapist fluff the Hollywood studio "system" cranked out like an assembly line. The millionaire referred to in the other user's comments was Barry Fitzgerald, a fine Irish character actor. He is best remembered for roles in memorable films such as "How Green was My Valley," and "The Naked City," as well as "Going My Way," for which he was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (win) for the same role, the only actor ever so recognized. He is also part of an exclusive group nominated for both lead and supporting Oscars in the same year(although for different films). But he is best remembered as the delightful Michaleen, the matchmaker with the mischievous leprechaun-like charm in "The Quiet Man."

Although not a conventional beauty, star Betty Hutton wasn't a major talent but she had an infectiously vivacious quality and innocence that made her appealing. "The Stork Club" is worth viewing if only for Hutton's all-stops-out rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," which she belts out with irresistible enthusiasm.

That aside, the film is historically memorable for supposedly using a set that was an exact replica of the long-defunct Stork Club, a notoriously exclusive New York institution for decades. The so-called "sanctum sanctorum" of the real Stork Club was the Cub Room, which only admitted celebrities and other big names, and their guests. In the great "All About Eve," the Cub Room is the celebrity watering hole that Bette Davis refers to as the place where "the elite meet."

A harmless confection and curio from a bygone age that is worth a look for the nostalgic value of a now-unimaginably innocent time.